Pick Your Neighborhood Before Your House
If you draw a parallel between buying a home and getting married (You gotta fall in love in both cases, right? ;) ). If the house is your spouse, your neighborhood is the family. Your house, you can change, but neighborhood, thats not so much in your control. So choose wisely and spend some time researching the neighborhood before you fall in love with the house!
Look and Feel
Once you have reviewed the neighborhood statistics and are comfortable with certain neighborhoods, its time to dive deeper and see if the specific neighborhood will fit you and your family's needs.
Spend some time walking through the neighborhood, preferably at different times during the day. Get the vibe of the place and see how it changes from morning to evening. Talk to neighbors when possible to see if this neighborhood would be a culture fit for you. Ask them questions like:
How long they have lived in the neighborhood
What they like and dislike about the place
If they have meetups or block parties
If they know anything about the property you're interested in
If you have children, see if there are families around with similar age children. Take note of how far from the house schools, parks and enrichment classes are.
At a glance, here are some things to consider and identify what they indicate:
Your Realtor is your neighborhood expert. Ask them about the amenities a neighborhood has to offer. Look up the city website to see if the city has a recreation brochure available. These provide information on different activities happening in the city, from carnivals to fitness, camps to sunset movies, and more. One such sample can be found here. Other amenities to make note of are:
How far are the schools you children would be going to?
Are there multiple schools clustered together?
Would you have to compete with school traffic while driving to work?
Do the parks around the house look well maintained?
Do the parks have picnic areas available to rent?
Does the play structure look in good shape?
Is there any graffiti on benches or play structures?
Grocery stores and access to shops
How far is the closest grocery store?
Would it be convenient to make a quick run to the store?
Are there any local businesses around?
See what kind of stores are around - do they look family friendly?
Do you have access to a pool, gymnasium and/or play structure through the HOA?
Does the HOA take care of front-yard maintenance?
Are they responsible for roof repairs, exterior painting and cleaning, etc?
Proximity to offices
See how far your commute would be from the house you're interested in.
What does change of jobs mean for you - would that possibly maintain the same commute?
You can modify your home to your liking but you cannot really change the neighborhood, so its important to do a thorough evaluation of the neighborhood before putting in that offer. With my in-depth knowledge about the South Bay, my clients get educated about the neighborhoods even before driving out to the streets. Having lived in multiple cities in the South bay, I have first hand knowledge of what each city has to offer.
If you have any specific questions about a neighborhood you're interested in, just reach out!